Sunday, December 2, 2012

Matt Smiley, the man, the post, the update

It’s been awhile since I’ve posted, seems I’m lucky if I got one in a month these days.  I thought I’d do a general update.  Yes, I am behind on posting 3-4 CD reviews that people have graciously sent me, so hopefully over the next month I’ll get through them!  Life in general as a musician has been great though recently.  Projects are as followed:

I had a great performance of John Coltrane’s “Ascension” last October, and slew of fun straight ahead jazz gigs with David Pope in Colorado.  Coming up soon in December I’m playing a new music gig at a Unitarian Church in Boulder, CO, with my quartet, “Mad Ranks.”  Mad Ranks started up last summer to play contemporary music, similar to my trio MTM, playing improvised based new music, via John Cage, Christian Wolff, Cornelius Cardew, Frederick Rzewski, etc…  Mad Ranks’ instrumentation is accordion/voice, bass, violin/viola, and piano, with good friends of mine.  Also, I contacted the Clyfford Still Museum about doing a performance there with this ensemble, and hope it works out eventually down the road. 

On the jazz front of things, I’ve been playing at Ace Gillett’s in Fort Collins for over two and a half years now.  It started 2-3 nights a week, and now I’m all the way up to playing 5 nights a week.  Wednesdays feature Kelsey Shiba and I, as a piano/vocals and bass duo.  When Kelsey can’t make it, it’s usually Ben Haugland, and we play instrumental standards/arrangements.  My roommate Tony Saccomanno comes by and plays drums with us for fun, and hopefully we can get him paid on the gig, and perform as a trio.  Thursday nights at Ace feature Andrew Vogt on saxophone, with Ben Markley on piano and John Olson on drums.  Friday and Saturday night are a quartet with rotating soloists from some of Colorado’s finest, with the rhythm section of Ben Haugland, John Olson and myself.  Sundays are new and started up last September, and feature Raincheck, with Steve Kovalcheck on guitar, Ben Markley on piano, Chris Smith and drums, and myself filling in for bassist Marty Kenney, who is the original member, and living in NYC going to school at Manhattan.

University of Northern Colorado’s “Open Space Music Festival” is coming up soon, March 2013, and I’ve been working with Dr. Paul Elwood to help program/perform on it.  The guest composer this year is Alvin Lucier, and we’ll be performing mostly works by him (possibly a Christian Wolff piece dedicated to him).  I’ll be playing Lucier’s “Composition for pianist and mother” which is a theatrical fluxus style piece, involving aDanielle Kimbelnd and I performing various actions as the “mother” and her “son” the pianist.  Also playing Lucier’s “Homage to James Tenney” for double bass and two oscillators, which involves slow frequency sweeps and bowed long tone harmonics.  We’re doing a chamber piece called “Shadow Lines,” my friend Ben Haugland will be performing “Nothing is real” based on the Beatles Strawberry Fields, involving an amplified tea pot and piano.  I’m most excited about (Hartford) memory space, an open text piece involving translating outside sounds to an inside performance space for an indeterminate ensemble.  The Open Space Festival this year involves a composition contest/performance that I applied for with an arrangement of my Morton Feldman gestural piece, that I hope will be picked, and if so performed by either a string quartet, or some other ensemble with flute, clarinets and piano.  It’ll be a really great performance weekend and I am excited to meet Alvin Lucier and play his music for him.

Also, I’m very much looking forward to being involved in Fort Collins’ Streetmosphere again this summer, 2013.  It’s paid street performance, with an openness that lets the performance play what they like.  I want to perform concerts of Masada/Ornette, which I’ve got a lot of charts of, free improv, Cardew’s Treatise performances, and some with my group Mad Ranks playing contemporary music.  I want to get away from doing any “straight ahead” jazz on these, as with my Ace Gillett’s gig I do that five nights a week already.  They advertised me as “Matt Smiley Jazz” last year, and this time I hope to simply be “Matt Smiley,” and have the performances be more of a reflection of the multifacets of my musical life.

I have a conceptual piece that I may try out this summer at one of these Streetmosphere gigs.  I checked out two books on Anthony Braxton’s music, and put all of the musical examples into finale.  My goal is go through them meticulously, and arrange them into my own miniature pieces, as a kind of “gesture” to Braxton’s music.  With the musical fragments I have I want to figure out how to create my own bass lines, melodies, forms, chord changes, etc… and perform them like the model of Tim Berne’s music.   

I started to record John Zorn’s guitar etudes last summer, and I really would like to continue on this project learning an etude, and doing audio/video recording to re-post on my bandcamp site and on youtube.  The “Smiley Series” could use some new updates too, but it’s such a silly project (me wearing a speedo playing random instruments for 1-2 minutes).  I still have a back of the mind idea of doing more with poetry/music, but I don’t know how yet.   

I am hoping to move out of the apartment complex I am in now, with my roommate and girlfriend, to a house in Fort Collins, and if I can make this work and find a place, I want to play music more and devote myself more.  The place we’re hoping to get has a two-car garage, and I’m already thinking about buying materials to section off half of the garage into a rehearsal/practice space.  It’s be fun to set up my microphones in the space, and record multi-track free improv projects, laying down bass, guitar, keyboard and drum tracks, and reacting in the moment to what I heard myself play on an earlier track.  I obtained a drum kit from a friend that moved a few months back, and having a space to play drums again would be exhilarating!  I played drums in middle and high school and would like to work certain things up again, knowing what I know, and being involved with free music.   

As far as I know, that’s as big an update as I can muster.  I feel sucked dry of all the musical ideas rattling in my head these days, and it’s great to write them down, and get them on “paper,” to go back to and work out the concepts.  I don’t know when I’ll blog again, but next one should be 1-2 CD reviews that I’ve been meaning to do.  That’s all I got, and with that “two fingas and split em!”